One day I received a phone call from a busy pastor, Could we get together, he asked, someplace, sometime to talk about training people in his church? He was willing to fly anywhere in the United States to meet me and discuss his problem for a half day or so. He obviously needed help , so we set up a meeting.
As we spent some time together, I found his situation to be fairly typical. He was the pastor of a growing, healthy and flourishing church. People where coming to Christ, attendance had increased, and he had to have two morning worship services. God was clearly blessing his church in many wonderful ways.
But this pastor also had a problem. He knew that unless he trained some spiritually qualified workers among the men and women of his congregation, many people would not get needed help in the initial stages of Christian growth (adequate follow-up) and would not develop into strong, robust disciples of Jesus Christ. And the pastor knew he was the key to this. The whole process has to begin with him. He could not toss it to a “department,” nor delegate it to someone else. As the spiritual leader of these people, he had to lead the way.
He had another problem—he was already a busy man. Many things demanded his attention; many people demanded his time. Like many other pastors, he spent a good deal of his time putting out brush fires in his congregation. No sooner had he dealt with one problem than another one arose.
To his consternation and frustration, he spent too much time with problem-centered people, trying to settle quarrels, make peace between members, deal with difficulty family situations, and a hundred and one other things.
But he had a dream. At time, he would go into his study, lock the door, and think of this situation in a whole new light. Wouldn’t it be great, he would think to himself, if I had a dedicated, ever-growing band of spiritually qualified men and women who could help handle some of the “spiritual” problems that keep coming up in this church?
He did not mean people who merely took tapes of his sermons to the shut-ins; delivered food clothing, and financial aid to the needy; taught in the Sunday school; or helped him manage the business and financial affairs of the church. He meant people who knew how to win another person to Christ and then take that person form the time of his conversion and help him become a solid, dedicated, committed, fruitful, mature disciple who could in time repeat that process in the life of another.
He would smile there in the privacy of his study, for his dream was so vivid he could almost reach out and touch what he envisioned. But then he would be jarred back to reality by the ringing of the phone. Another problem. And he was the only spiritually qualified person in the congregation who could help. So he would set aside his dream, pick up his Bible, and go out the door.
– From “The Lost Art of Disciple Making ,” LeRoy Eims. Used by permission of the author.